Alaska News Nightly: January 13, 2015

Stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via emailpodcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at alaskapublic.org and on Twitter @aprn.

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Habitat Director Out, As Walker Administration Shifts Approach To Permitting

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

When Gov. Bill Walker took office, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game was in the midst of overhauling its habitat policies. Management plans for 3 million acres of fish, bird, bear, and moose habitat were being rewritten in a way that could allow more development. Division Director Randy Bates described the approach in a 2013 interview with APRN.

Meyer Decides Against Pierre Contract For Press Work

The Associated Press

The incoming Alaska Senate president has decided against hiring a former state military affairs official to help the Senate majority press office this session.

‘Hire More Heroes Act’ Passes U.S. House Unanimously

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

Despite the fierce fights waged in Congress over the Affordable Care Act, a bill to loosen the employer mandate sailed through the U.S. House last week. The vote was unanimous for what’s called the “Hire More Heroes Act.” The aim is to encourage small businesses to employ veterans. The bill says veterans wouldn’t count toward the 50-employee threshold that determines whether a business is required to offer health insurance.

State’s New Attorney General Outlines Department’s Challenges

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

Alaska’s new attorney general is a 39-year-old who has spent the last 10 years practicing law with Governor Bill Walker. Craig Richards grew up in Fairbanks. He’s enthusiastic about his new position.

Richards says the department of law is dealing with two big challenges right now- the first is the National Guard issue.

Placer Mining Big Business in Alaska, Report Finds

Matthew Smith, KNOM – Nome

Most placer mining operations in Alaska are small, but combined they bring in about $100 million a year. That’s according to a new study from the Alaska Miners Association looking at the economic impact of placer mine operations across the state.

Forest Service Proposes Mendenhall Glacier Fee Increase

Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau

The U.S. Forest Service is holding a public meeting in Juneau Tuesday to discuss a proposed fee increase at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center starting with the 2016 tourist season.

Path Cleared Through Kuskokwim Ice Jam For K300

Charles Enoch, KYUK – Bethel

After a strange freeze up and a few winter thaws, the Kuskokwim 300 will follow the Kuskokwim River exclusively from Bethel to Aniak and back on the same trail.

Elim Celebrates Elder’s 100th Birthday

Kristin Leffler, KNOM – Nome

Last week more than 100 people gathered in Elim–a small community of about 330 people on the Seward Peninsula–to be a part of a milestone for elder Eliza Katongan: a celebration of a century of life.